Appellate Court overturns award of permanent partial disability benefits

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A decision by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission was overturned by the Appellate Court of Illinois, which said that the commission needed to make a decision about the appropriateness of a wage-differential award as compared to an award based on the percentage of the body that was impaired.

In the case, Lenhart v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the claimant worked for USF Holland as a truck driver and dockworker. He injured his back in a workplace accident, and filed for workers’ compensation benefits.

At an arbitration hearing, the claimant argued that he was permanently and totally disabled. The employer stipulated that the claimant was not able to perform his previous duties, but argued that he was not totally and permanently disabled. The claimant engaged in vocational rehabilitation, and there was evidence that he was still employable, but at a diminished earning capacity.

The arbitrator found the claimant permanently and totally disabled, but after the employer appealed, the Commission found that he was not totally disabled, but entitled to permanent partial disability benefits representing a 75 percent loss of abilities.

The Appellate Court overturned the Commission’s decision and ruled that the Commission should have decided whether the claimant’s benefits should be calculated based on a wage differential rather than a percentage of the person as a whole.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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